One side contained this cheerful image:
The memoir with the Waifs and Strays slip turned out to be the first of a batch of Victorian books that included a selection of 'penny dreadfuls', a couple of titles by John Ruskin and a battered copy of a children's poetry collection from 1868.
As I picked it up, the poetry book fell apart in my hands. I tried to reassemble the pages and found these appealing colour illustrations:
The poems also hark back to a pre-industrial rural idyll, evoking a world that still exists in the popular imagination: cottages with roses around the door, the hum of bees on a summer's afternoon, the church spire of a distant village, a babbling woodland stream and a carpet of bluebells.
There are no factory chimneys or back to back houses. Young readers may have been deemed able to cope with the grim realities of death and disease, but some subjects were clearly beyond the pale.